West Midlands MEP Michael Cashman has won for an award in recognition of his work for human rights.

He has been a strong defender of the rights of LGBT across Europe. He is president of the European Parliament Intergroup on Gay and Lesbian Rights.

The Parliament Magazine launched the awards in 2005 to recognise the work of MEPs in nine areas.

Mr Cashman won in the Justice and Human Rights Category.

Nominations for each of the categories were collected from non-government organisations and not-for-profit organisations working in sector-specific areas.

MEPs then choose the winner.

Michael Cashman said he was delighted to have been chosen by his colleagues.

“I am proud that the European Parliament has shown itself to be an agent of change by standing up for basic human rights, not only in the EU, but across the world. The overwhelming majority of MEPs believe that supporting measures on human rights is the decent thing to do.

“I will continue to work with my colleagues who support this view and I will continue to name and shame those MEPs who oppose and fail to support such measures.

“When it comes to the defence of Human Rights and Civil Liberties, no one acts alone. Therefore I want to pay tribute to all those people who work with me over the years, both personally and politically.”

Before he became an MEP in 1999, his ground-breaking portrayal of Colin Russell in EastEnders, between 1986 and 1989, saw the first gay kiss in a UK soap.

Mr Cashman co-founded gay equality organisation Stonewall in 1989 and is also a key figure in the Labour party, a member of the ruling National Executive Committee and close to former Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Earlier this year Mr Cashman was awarded an honorary degree by Staffordshire University.